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Who else remembers the days when video games used to have built-in cheat codes? Before microtransactions and pay-to-win came along, players were freely given the option to god-mode their way through all the levels—if you were smart enough to figure out the correct random string of buttons! Or lucky enough to get them through hearsay.
The internet was far from mainstream back then, so these cheat codes were often passed around from kids to kids at school, or discovered as tips in printed gaming magazines. But once you knew the codes, they became ingrained in your brain. Here are some of the most iconic video game cheats from that golden age.
1. The Konami Code
When it comes to video game cheats, it doesn’t get much more iconic than the Konami code. Pressing Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A had a wide range of effects in various games. Just about every video game fan has entered this code at one time or another, as it’s been used and replicated repeatedly since it was first used in retro Konami games like Contra.
2. God Mode (Doom)
Doom is famous for pioneering the first-person shooter genre, but it was also known for being brutally difficult when it came out. To make things easier for players, ID Software tucked a handy God Mode cheat into the game that would make you invincible. The code was IDDQD, which is “ID” (the game development studio) plus “Delta-Q-Delta” (the college fraternity formed by Doom programmer Dave Daylor).
3. Blood Mode (Mortal Kombat)
This is one of those cheat codes that circled its way through elementary schools around the world. No one actually wanted to play the officiale, watered-down, non-gory version of Mortal Kombat. They wanted blood! And, somehow, kids all over the world figured out that hitting A, B, A, C, A, B, B on Mortal Kombat’s Code of Honor screen would result in Scorpion yelling “Get over here!” and unlocking the famous Blood Mode.
4. Fight Tyson (Mike Tyson’s Punch Out)
Punch Out is an excruciatingly difficult video game, and the fight against Mike Tyson is one of the most intense boss fights in the history of games. Thankfully, there was a well-known cheat code that let you skip all the other fighters and take on the champ right away, and most gamers were well aware of this cheat back in the day. Simply entering the password 0073735963 would get you there—but getting to Tyson was only the beginning of the miserable-yet-ultimately-satisfying journey of Punch Out.
5. Level Select (Sonic the Hedgehog)
You could play through every level in Sonic the Hedgehog as you were meant to, but who has time for that? Old-school gamers knew to simply hit Up, Down, Left, Right, A + Start to unlock the ability to play any level you want. Do you get the satisfaction of beating the game legitimately? Well, no, but you do you get to feel like you stole something by playing the last level of the game (and probably failing at it) right away!
6. Big Head Mode (NBA Jam)
If you’re old enough to remember arcades with NBA Jam cabinets, or if you were lucky enough to own the game on a home console, you probably knew how to make your characters have ridiculously large heads. All you needed to do was hold the Up, Turbo, and Steal buttons until the tipoff to give every player a bulbous cranium. Did it make the game any different? Not really, but it was one of those cheats that never got old!
7: Money, Money, Money (The Sims)
As I remember it, there were two ways to play The Sims: you sent your Sims to work and tried to scratch and crawl your way to the cool stuff, or you just hit Ctrl + Shift + C to bring up the console and type Rosebud over and over again until you had millions of Simoleons. With all that cash, you were free to build whatever you wanted!
Cheat On, Cheaters!
In the history of video games, cheats have almost always been around. While they’re less common in today’s games, they still exist. But while there have been literally thousands of cheats in gaming’s relatively short history, none compare the ones above.
Want to relive the greatness of retro gaming’s golden era? You can! Check out these modern retro gaming consoles for nostalgic fun!